The nurse-technology relationship: the case of ultrasonography

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1997 Nov-Dec;26(6):673-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.1997.tb02742.x.


Objective: To examine the nurse-technology relationship via a case study of ultrasonography in women's health nursing practice.

Design: Exploratory case study using ethnographic methods.

Setting: Outpatient obstetric and gynecology clinic of a large teaching hospital.

Participants: Three nurses, two technicians, and one physician.

Results: Two of the nurses and the physician were very "nurse-like" in their use of the technology of ultrasonography to fulfill the traditional nursing purposes of observation, teaching, and comforting. The third nurse was nurse-like in talk, but at times "technician-like" in performance, allowing the technology to pull her away from nursing purposes.

Conclusions: The expert nurses bent the technology to nursing purposes. Sonographers performed in accordance with professional training and experience, rather than with gender expectations. The subtle differences between expert nurse use and technical use (by novice nurses or technicians) of ultrasonography may provide a strong rationale against current efforts to substitute technically trained or technically oriented personnel for expert nurses.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Gynecology
  • Humans
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Obstetric Nursing
  • Pregnancy
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Ultrasonography / nursing*
  • Ultrasonography / psychology*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / nursing
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / psychology